Timberwolves one of handful of NBA teams to lose money last season

Categories: Timberwolves
TWolveslogonew.jpg
Somewhere, Glen Taylor is channeling the sentiments of Zach LaVine.
A season that began with such optimism ended in bitter, familiar disappointment for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and that feeling reportedly translated into a financial loss for the organization.

Grantland's stellar NBA reporter Zach Lowe somehow obtained and verified "a confidential memo the league sent to all 30 teams in early June" that breaks down each team's estimated profits or losses for the 2013-14 season, and according to it, the Timberwolves were one of only nine teams to lose money. (Lowe, regrettably, doesn't include the full memo in his report.)

See also:
Flip Saunders hires Flip Saunders to coach Timberwolves: Top tweets

The Timberwolves lost roughly $6 million last year, according to Lowe's document. That was the sixth biggest loss of any team. Here were the other eight teams in that category:

Orlando ($2 million loss)
Sacramento ($3 million)
New York ($3.5 million)
Charlotte ($8 million)
Detroit ($12 million)
Atlanta ($13 million)
D.C. ($13 million)
Brooklyn ($144 million -- holy shit!)

During a podcast with Lowe, ESPN analyst Bill "Sports Guy" Simmons cited TV deals and revenue from courtside seats as two big factors impacting teams' bottom lines, but ticket sales certainly play a role as well. And in that regard, somewhat surprisingly given the buzz surrounding the team headed into the season, the 2013-14 Wolves sold less tickets than any iteration of the team in recent years.

Here's the year-by-year average attendance for the Wolves, along with where the team ranked relative to the NBA's 30 teams:
2009-10: 15,101 (25th)
2010-11: 15,242 (24th)
2012 (lockout shortened season): 17,490 (15th)
2012-13: 16,340 (21st)
2013-14: 14,564 (27th)
On the other end of the spectrum, Lowe reports that the most profitable team in the NBA this season was the suddenly terrible (at least on the court) Los Angeles Lakers, with $100.1 million in profits. Here's the rest of the top five:
2. Chicago ($61 million)
3. Houston ($40.7 million)
4. Boston ($33.1 million)
5. Oklahoma City ($29 million)
In January, Forbes valued the Timberwolves at about $430 million, which ranked 26th in the NBA. That's not impressive, but here's a tidbit that is -- team owner Glen Taylor only paid $88 million for the team back in 1995. Talk about good return on an investment!

In other Timberwolves-related news, Taylor officially became the owner of the Star Tribune yesterday. To put the Wolves' $6 million loss in context, consider Taylor paid about $100 million for the Strib and spent roughly $75 million on Wolves player salaries. In other words, for him, $6 million is a relative drop in the bucket.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.



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21 comments
Eric Hurst
Eric Hurst

K love was a great pick. Can ball anyone in the league for a big man. Dont get rid of him. Surround him with a shooter and you can stretch the floor

Paul Gerst
Paul Gerst

Maybe the T-Wolves can learn from the Cubs!

John Quast
John Quast

No. In the running for worst run organization in sports now that Sterling is gone.

Josh Balsness
Josh Balsness

Maybe they should have a free bacon night, since Glenn doesn't mind giving it away.

Kyle J. Holman
Kyle J. Holman

The best thing about going to a wolves game last season was wondering if Kevin and JJ were going to fight each other. That doesn't really help sell tickets.

Andrew Dale
Andrew Dale

What a joke. Get rid of Love and start a new chapter.

Steve Rood
Steve Rood

Did someone say bacon? Where's a good place for brunch in this town?

misterrosewater
misterrosewater

Holy shit is right.  I think Jay-Z just found his 100th problem.

eyetod
eyetod

wait, there is a team in Brooklyn? 




Tiffany Huiting
Tiffany Huiting

No-one is paying to see losers only want to go to games here to see other teams

facemobb
facemobb

Odd to say 'one of only nine teams'. That's 30% of the league. That speaks more to the instability of the entire NBA, no?

Matthew Martin
Matthew Martin

"To put the Wolves' $6 million loss in context, consider Taylor paid about $100 million for the Strib and spent roughly $75 million on Wolves player salaries. In other words, for him, $6 million is a relative drop in the bucket." -Pretty much.

Tyler Chip Moody Suter
Tyler Chip Moody Suter

Never. Unbelievably dysfunctional organization. I really hope Flip can help turn it around, because basketball is such a wonderful sport.

jakellyr
jakellyr

Just remember that these teams usually aren't actually losing money. These are phantom losses that chalked up from accounting tactics that are made to manipulate the balance sheets and show paper losses. If you looked at the books, a large amount of claimed losses would be from "player depreciation" which can be counted as tens of millions in losses. This is super helpful come tax time, when a net loss means less much less money coming out of owners' pockets to the IRS. These teams turn a real profit, but these reports are only used for personal financial gain. www.sportsfriendsmn.com

bcollins10
bcollins10

this isn't surprising at all, actually. Last season was the season the team jacked up the prices for season ticket holders. It had lowered the prices because it was an unwatchable team. Upstairs, center court, for example, that had been $5 a ticket for several years, were now going for $29.


Ticketholders established the value of a game. $5 was a good valuable. $29 was not.

and, of course, the team has now raised those same prices to $37 for next season.

Fortunately, Mr. Taylor still has $1.8 billion to fall back on.

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